The action from Riggs' 2010 return to Wrigley evens the series.
CHICAGO—Another April ballgame, another venue, another city. It's a cold night in Lakeview, with the wind coming in from the north and the game-time temp in the low 40s. It's one of those nights when the hardy fans who come to Wrigley alternate beers and hot chocolate, as Kenny Kaduk detailed in his boozy ballpark bildungsroman, Wrigleyworld. With that sort of mixed pleasure to look forward to, you understand why the 30,000 folks in attendance trickled in. But it would only get colder as the night goes on, one of those seasonal features of Wrigley in April that encourages all concerned to gun for quick games made more quickly still by small-ball tactics.
How many twins (performance-wise) have ever had to square off on the mound?
A few weeks back, while sitting in an advanced financial markets course, I took a break from designing the target capital structure of a hypothetical corporation and called up MLB Gameday on the laptop. The Cubs were in town to play the Phillies, and the game simply grabbed a good chunk of my attention-before critiquing my ethics as a student, know that I get high marks, so taking a break here and there to zone out and watch baseball is something I earn and reward myself with. [Ed. Note: What right-thinking individual wouldn't?] What grabbed an even stronger hold of my attention was the pitching matchup that night: Rodrigo Lopez vs. Ted Lilly. Granted, both pitchers had journeyed to this particular point in drastically different fashions-Lilly via a lucrative multi-year deal signed two years prior, and Lopez via above-average performance in Triple-A while working his way back from elbow surgery-but each sported identical 3.18 ERAs as the game began. Though Lilly had produced his ERA in 119 innings, way more than the 11 1/3 for Lopez, and therefore much more indicative of actual performance, their identical performance metrics on this score piqued my interest.
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Turning the caution dial back to make for a better-informed pitcher usage patterns.
When Baseball Prospectus was first getting started more than a decade ago, we ended up helping add a certain pointedness to the question over what sort of workloads starting pitchers could handle by creating a statistic, Pitcher Abuse Points. Controversial at the time because of the inference that it was a predictive tool, what PAP was in fact was a counting stat, sort of like a warning light on the dashboard of your car-it gave you cause for concern, but it wasn't telling you that a complete breakdown was incipient. However, when PAP was first published, the baseball industry was perhaps better typified as relatively indifferent on the subject. Previous warnings about workloads had been aired-perhaps most famously in Craig Wright's and Tom House's The Diamond Appraised in the '80s-but generally speaking, pitcher workloads weren't as carefully monitored as they are now.
Fast-forward a decade, and that has changed almost industry-wide. Organizations monitor their pitchers from the highest level to the lowest, count pitches in games, on their throw days, warming up in the bullpen, even throws to the bases, if it involves a pitcher and a baseball in flight, it's being charted. In A-ball leagues, several teams use adaptive workloads with an eye towards keeping younger pitchers from being overworked-instead of a normal starter/reliever split in assignments, you'll find groups of pitchers pitching in tandem, paired off to handle the first six or seven innings together, and throwing 60 to 90 pitches, and trading off the honor of starting or following in that ballgame. As much as possible, teams are not sacrificing any of their pitching prospects for the greater glory of pennant race in Binghamton.
The baseball season offers so many wonderful distractions from a war-torn world and lives of quiet desperation. For the last week, whenever depression claws at the mind, when personal relationships with friends or colleagues seem to have taken a step back, when sleep seems impossible, it is spectacularly soothing to think of the triumphant whoops, high-fives, and fist bumps in the Rockies front office when they learned that their waiver claim on Livan Hernandez had gone through.
Bryan looks at the biggest impact call-ups since the strike, and gives you a few names you might not yet know who could have an impact on this year's pennant race.
As June slowly fades into July and the trade deadline inches closer, rumors have begun to fly about which teams are looking for midseason help. When you think of moves that can propel a team into the playoffs, you think "trade." But that's not the only midseason acquistion that can help a contender. When the Milwaukee Brewers called up Yovani Gallardo last week, the first-place Brew Crew added an elite pitcher that PECOTA projected a 3.92 ERA from in 2007--and that was before he left Indianapolis with the minor league strikeout lead (110 in 77.2 innings).
With a number of organizations deeply invested in Japan, the Pirates look for Cuban arms to help pull them out of the cellar.
If you don't believe it, just think back to a few months ago when the chat rooms, talk shows, and highlight shows were filled with news of the posting for Daisuke Matsuzaka by Seibu Lions, the spirited bidding war that ensued, the Boston Red Sox winning that bidding at a whopping $51,111,111.11 and the subsequent negotiations than ended with Dice-K signing a six-year contract worth $52 million.
Throw in the $26,000,194 the New York Yankees paid through the posting system to the Hanshin Tigers in order to sign left-hander Kei Igawa to a five-year, $20-million contract, and Japan has clearly replaced Cuba as the nation major league clubs look to for quick fixes.
Joe looks closer at two sets of recent transactions: the Wright-Reyes contracts in NY, and the Livan Hernandez trade.
OK, I don't know what the other nominees in the category might be, but I also don't think it matters. The Mets' twin signings of Jose Reyes and David Wright are as solid an investment as any baseball team has made in recent years. The two deals lock up a champiosnhip-caliber core through the players' peaks while avoiding a hefty investment in post-peak seasons, and they do so at reasonable, perhaps even bargain prices.